Butler vs. Southern: What you need to know

Kamar Baldwin takes a shot during a game this season. Baldwin and the Butler men’s basketball team face Southern University at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Dec. 14. Donald Crocker / Collegian file photo.

CHRIS BROWN | SPORTS EDITOR | cbbrown@butler.edu

After falling at Baylor for their first loss of the season, the Butler men’s basketball team returns to Hinkle Fieldhouse for a Saturday matinee against Southern University. Here’s what you need to know as the Bulldogs take on the Jaguars.

Who: No. 18 Butler (9-1) vs. Southern (3-7)

When: Saturday, Dec. 14, 12 p.m. EST

Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

How to Watch/Listen: FS1, 93.5FM/107.5FM/1070AM

  1. Southern is off to a rough start to its season.

The Jaguars have simply been one of the worst teams in Division I college basketball this season. The team currently ranked 337th in the country by KenPom and two of its three victories this season have come against non-Division I opponents. Southern’s best performance of the season came when the team took Nebraska to overtime on Nov. 22 before falling 93-86.

Southern does not have a player averaging double-digit points this season, though there are four players averaging more than seven points. Senior Micah Bradford, junior Lamarcus Lee and sophomore Jayden Saddler make up the three-guard lineup often employed by second-year head coach Sean Woods. Bradford, who is averaging 8.5 points per game and shooting 35% from the field, is the only player averaging over one 3-pointer per game, so the team is certainly not a significant threat from beyond the arc.

  1. The Jaguars’ greatest strength this season has been offensive rebounding, so it’ll be important for Butler to set the tone defensively in the paint.

While Southern ranks outside the top 150 nationally in field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, scoring offense and scoring defense among other key statistical categories, one of the Jaguars’ greatest strengths this season has been offensive rebounding. The team is averaging 14.1 offensive boards per game, a mark 14th in the nation.

Six-foot, nine-inch junior Darius Williams is the team’s top rebounder, averaging seven boards per game. While the Jaguars aren’t a particularly tall team, four players are averaging roughly four rebounds or more per game. It will be important for Butler’s bigs to set the tone in the paint and limit second chance points for Southern.

  1. Butler’s bench players might have an opportunity to get significant playing time.

In a very uncharacteristic fashion, the Butler bench accounted for just one point against Baylor on Dec. 10. It was just the first time this season the Bulldogs’ bench has contributed less than 11 points. With Butler the heavy favorite in this matchup, head coach LaVall Jordan will likely get the opportunity to mix and match with a number of less-experienced lineups. 

Freshman Khalif Battle has impressed in limited minutes this season, showing the athleticism which made him a four-star prospect, but hasn’t gotten an extended run, something he could see against Southern. Additionally, center Derrik Smits and forward Markeese Hastings, who have yet to play in the regular season due to injuries, both appear ready for game action, and this game could be the perfect opportunity to give them minutes as the team gets ever closer to conference play. In short, if this game goes as expected, less experienced players will get the chance to show how they can contribute to the team the rest of the season.

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